To be honest, autumn has become a bit of a tough time for me. It was always one of my favorite times of year, especially as a teenager. It included Halloween, for one — I’ve always been head-over-heels for fantasy, dress-up, and makeup. When I reached high school and made real friends for the first time, it also meant fun things like football games, pumpkin carving, mall trips, meals at cozy diners, haunted houses, trick-or-treating, driving around town, and other great stuff with my friends. In early college, I had just as much fun exploring museums, theaters, restaurants, shops, lounges, and other venues with my new friends and sorority sisters. I also got to have a great time dressing up and going out for Halloween.
When I transferred universities halfway through college, a toxic ex-boyfriend made it a point to sabotage my attempts to make friends and maximize the time I spent at home with him. I found my own way of enjoying fall anyways — I took photographs of the glorious outdoors, drank tons of hot coffee, smoked way too much hookah (it turns out hookah was a bad coping mechanism of mine), and composed cute fall outfits for myself. I was also able to enjoy outings with our parents, since at least he didn’t isolate me from our families.
I’ve moved a few times since then (I’ve lived in a lot of places in my life). One of the crazy things about moving a lot, especially as you get older and don’t have school or a non-remote job to make friends, is that you learn how to spend most of your time alone. Your friends are long-distance (and you lose most of them, like I did). Maybe you even stop dating because you’re tired of meeting crappy people, being lied to, questioning whether your self-respect is still intact, and believing that it doesn’t get any better than catfish with ulterior motives (that’s what happened to me).
Eventually, you become entirely isolated. If you want to go out on a Friday night, you take your laptop or a book with you, sit alone, and enjoy the environment all by yourself (but, if you’re a lady, you probably don’t stay out too late since you have nobody with you and it’s not all that safe out there). But why? Well, because you don’t have anyone to call up and ask for company.
Sometimes, not having anyone to spend time or go places with gets lonely. Since the beginning of 2015, I’ve gradually found myself more and more alone… now, it’s 2018 and I have no friends to go out with; I’ve socially peaked at the age of 24 years old. It’ll be my fourth year in a row of not doing anything for Halloween (2015, 2016, 2017, and now, 2018) — I have nowhere to go and no one to make plans with. I’ll be living vicariously through the costumes and parties people post pictures of on Instagram.
But I just don’t feel bad for myself anymore. Sometimes, it’s a little sad, but I believe that, in many ways, it all worked out for the best.
I’m finally able to focus on myself, my goals, my happiness, and my safety. I work on my writing , my MMA training, and my plans for my future everyday without social obligations or the pressure to check my phone.
My free time is my free time. I don’t have to compromise my rest for late nights out, my alcohol consumption is almost zilch, I hardly face disruptions to my healthy eating plans (it’s hard to keep up with clean eating when you’re spending a lot of time drunk and chowing down with your friends at restaurants), and my bank account isn’t always running on empty from nights out.
I don’t spend much (read: any) time at parties or bars filled with drunk people (read: drunk men) anymore, nor do I find myself out all that late or hanging out in unknown places after dark — it’s been a much safer lifestyle for me.
I also don’t have to worry about embarrassing myself while I’m drunk anymore, which is always a relief.
So yes, my current solitude might be a little bit lonely.
But, at the same time, it also just might pay off.